Press Release

Students and young space professionals weigh in on future European Space Policy

By SpaceRef Editor
July 29, 2003
Filed under ,

Following a consultation process that involved
around 150 young people from all EU countries, the United Nations’
Space Generation
Advisory Council (SGAC)
has published its recommendations on the
EU Green Paper on European Space Policy. The document was handed to Research
Commissioner Philippe Busquin at the Green
Paper Closing Conference in Paris

One of the major recurring themes during the Space
Green Paper consultation process was the importance of young
people in the space industry. Long-term programmes and inspirational
visions are seen by many as key to ensuring that a next generation of
space pioneers will be there to take up the European standard.

Speaking in Paris, Busquin
said, “One cannot underestimate the importance of providing a
long-term vision for our young people. Space is and must remain not
only a strategic and economic resource, but also the stuff of dreams
and imagination. We therefore greatly appreciate the contribution of
the SGAC in presenting the views of the next generation of Europeans
in space.”

The recommendations

The SGAC is a voluntary body representing youth and young space professionals
to the United Nations,
states and space agencies. Its key recommendations call upon the Union
to:

  • Substantially increase the scope of EU space programmes, increase
    overall investment, integrate national space and defence programmes,
    and use resources more efficiently;
  • Develop capabilities in space security;
  • Strengthen and enforce space law and develop a treaty prohibiting
    space weapons;
  • Develop an inexpensive launch capability focusing on unconventional
    technologies;
  • Expand cutting-edge programmes, including human spaceflight and
    exploration, providing inspiration and reducing brain drain;
  • Dedicate 1% of all space budgets to education and outreach;
  • Establish a centre for strategic interdisciplinary research; and
  • Establish a Youth Advisory Council to support EU Space Policy.

According to Will Marshall, a PhD student in Physics at the University
of Oxford UK, “It is important that the Commission hears
the voices of young people as we represent the future of the space sector
in Europe. We are at the unique stage in our careers where we remain
visionary but at the same time have the technical knowledge with which
to understand the practical steps forward.”

For Julia Tizard, a PhD student in Cosmochemistry at the University
of Manchester, the declining interest in science among higher-level
students is a real barrier for Europe on the way to attaining its goal
of becoming the world’s most advanced knowledge-based society.
“Space,” she says, “is an exemplary way to increase
interest in science and technology! Increasing spending on education
and outreach, and enhancing cutting edge programmes, such as human spaceflight,
solar system exploration, and advanced launchers, would help keep Europe’s
scientific elite within its boarders.”

No ambition too great

Political scientist Andre Nilsen, from Norway, says “European economic
and security-related ambitions demand that we narrow the 1:6 ratio between
European and American investment in space. A new Directorate-General
should be established in the Commission to coordinate civilian and security-related
space policy. This new Space DG would also oversee the implementation
of policy by the European Space Agency, which would be incorporated
into the EU as an executive agency.”

From a legal perspective, Gerardine Goh, a Singaporean space law Masters
student at University
College London, says, “The enforcement of international
space law must be strengthened. This is necessary for the continued
use of space for exclusively peaceful purposes. The SGAC is particularly
concerned by recent developments in space weaponry and missile defence,
and the effects of the cessation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
We strongly recommend that the EU take an international leadership in
developing a treaty regime comprehensively prohibiting weapons and warfare
in outer space.”

For the complete SGAC
recommendations
.

SpaceRef staff editor.